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Alhambra could move power lines and other overhead utilities underground in some parts of the city

Photo by David Muñoz.

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

The Alhambra City Council will conduct a public hearing during their Monday night meeting on whether to take overhead utility wires and facilities in certain areas of the city and move them underground.

City staff is recommending that the City Council create an underground utility district to provide electricity, communications and other similar services to residents living on Chapel Avenue from San Marino Avenue to Linda Vista Avenue, as well as from Los Higos Street to Mission Road. The district would also encompass Commonwealth Avenue from Olive Avenue to Palm Avenue. The resolution would have construction start as soon as possible and be completed no later than Dec. 31, 2022.

A copy of the resolution included in the staff report said that creating an underground utility district in this area would reduce the risk posed by an “unusually heavy concentration of overhead distribution facilities” for these areas, which have a lot of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Above ground power lines and other utility facilities can be dangerous to people if downed or damaged by weather, accidents or other circumstances.

By conducting a public hearing and adopting this resolution, the City Council would authorize Alhambra to task Southern California Edison with the conversion into an underground utility district. Utility companies are required to set aside funds to convert above ground facilities into underground ones. City staff is predicting the cost to the city as being negligible. The resolution would allow the City Council to assess the feasibility of an underground utility district, should any extra costs be incurred, for example, by the discovery of hazardous materials in the ground.

Public hearing notices were mailed to 272 households in the proposed district. Further notices will be sent to all affected residents and utilities within 10 days of the adoption of this resolution.

The City Council will also consider continuing an appeal regarding the denial of a permit to build a three-story, four-unit condominium complex at 510 N. 3rd St. until their next meeting on April 22, 2019. The Council first heard this appeal at their last meeting on March 24, and Council members expressed concerns about the proposed development blocking sunlight and creating privacy issues for neighboring residences that are not as tall as the proposed building. These reservations echoed the concerns of the Planning Commission, who denied the application in a four to three vote on Jan. 7. The applicant Eric Tsang filed an appeal against this ruling, on the grounds that the Planning Commission made approval of the project contingent on a shadow study to see if the new building would block sunlight from surrounding properties at different times of day and on limiting construction hours. He said that these two conditions are not required or enforceable in the Alhambra Municipal Code.

At the March 24 Council meeting, Tsang said that he was willing to produce a shadow study and provide any information that would better contextualize the development in the neighborhood, which is zoned for high-density residences. The City Council asked Tsang to provide a shadow study and full-size renderings that would show the new development in context with the rest of the neighborhood. The hearing was originally continued to April 8, and the City Council is being asked to continue the hearing again so that Tsang has more time to review the development’s plans and the City Council’s concerns.

The City Council will also hear a presentation on the training that Planning Commissioners are given at the start of their yearly terms. The presentation includes information on the role of general plans and zoning codes in urban planning, an overview of California Environmental Quality Act requirements, the role of the Alhambra Planning Commission and the process that a development undertakes to get to a planning hearing in the city, and open and transparent meetings and communication as required by California’s Brown Act.

Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler and the City Council will also present a certificate of recognition to Director of Public Works Mary Chavez, who is retiring after 35 years of service with the city of Alhambra. Andrade-Stadler will also present a commendation to graduating senior members of Alhambra High School’s Moor Marching Band, for “their representation of Alhambra at many events throughout the year with professionalism, enthusiasm, and poise.”

Andrade-Stadler will also declare April 2019 as Donate Life Month, to promote organ, tissue, marrow and blood donation in California. In the state, 21,000 people are currently on the national organ transplant waiting list. She will then declare April 24, 2019 as Denim Day in Alhambra, for which people are encouraged to wear jeans to raise awareness of the prevalence, misconceptions and prevention of sexual assault. This will coincide with Denim Day in Los Angeles County, organized by local sexual assault awareness non-profit Peace Over Violence, and National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which occurs during April of every year.

Tournament of Roses Press Photo Chair Steve Macala will present an official photo of Alhambra’s 2019 Rose Parade float, entitled “Home Tweet Home,” to Grace Blackwell, a local fifth grader who won a citywide contest to design the float in March 2018. “Home Tweet Home” won the Rose Parade’s Princess Award, given to the float with the most outstanding floral presentation among entries that were up to 35 feet in length.

The consent agenda includes a contract to purchase 73 computers for the Alhambra Civic Center Library and the award of a five-year contract extension to West Coast Arborists for maintenance of the city’s trees, with an additional appropriation of $150,000 from the city’s landscaping fund, to account for increased costs. West Coast Arborists have maintained trees in the public right-of-way for Alhambra since 1997.

Read Alhambra’s City Council agenda here.

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